Course - Law

None (Property and Contracts will give you some background.)

Recommended Courses:

None, although Estates and Trusts and Family Law at least touch on some areas of overlap.


This course takes an in-depth look at how society regulates marital property.  It focuses on Arizona; but because Arizona uses the rules of many other community property jurisdictions, especially California, it is necessary to look generally at community property concepts.


This is a bar course designed to give you both an enjoyable in-depth academic sense of the subject and preparation for the Arizona bar and any other bar that includes community property (California, Nevada, Washington, New Mexico, Texas, Idaho, Louisiana, and Wisconsin).  (I do not believe that the community property coverage from first year Property, Estates and Trusts & Family Law adequately enables you to understand the subject or prepares you for the bar.)  In addition, I think this is a Acore@ law subject; anyone who has gone to law school should be able to explain in considerable detail the way our marital property system works.


Some of the specific topics this course covers are:


1.         What is marital property, what property is community property, and what property is separate?  This includes: theoretical material concerning the goals of the community property system; gifts, commingled accounts; tracing problems; part-community/part-separate property such as businesses and homes; improvements; mortgage payments; joint-tenancy; personal injury awards; professional degrees and licenses; business goodwill; pensions; prenuptial agreements and other transmutations of community to separate and separate to community property.

2.         Management and control of marital assets.

3.         Marital debts, including contract, tort, child and spousal support.

4.         Inception and termination of marriage.

5.         Distribution of marital property upon dissolution of marriage. 

The focus is on treatment of marital property during an on-going marriage and at divorce.  We will evaluate some matters concerning distribution at death, but largely that coverage I leave to Estates and Trusts teachers.  We will also touch upon spousal support and child support matters, but largely that coverage I leave to Family Law courses. 


When I began teaching this course, there were no published casebooks or other adequate materials for this course.  The materials we will use are a casebook that I wrote that is in Acopy machine@ form.  It contains textual material, cases that mostly but not exclusively come from Arizona, and some examples to work through.  It is designed to be user-friendly and to give you a way to think about community property issues that will assist you in working through community property issues you run into for the rest of your life. 

Course Format

I teach by a variety of methods, including: lecturing, asking questions, role-play, generating entire-class discussion, breaking into small discussion groups, having students teach a topic, and having people write things down. I am not above giving a Apop-quiz@ or two, but usually they have some humor value and have the purpose of encouraging you to do your work rather than to punish or grade you. It will be much easier to absorb the material if you come regularly to class.

Written Assignments

I haven't done it--but if I can set up a useful one, I may do so.

Type of Exam

I give a closed-book essay exam at the end of the semester. I test your analytic skills & your ability to explain what you know. It is not a memory exam.

Basis for grading

The exam, with useful participation used as a tie breaker if there are ties that have to be broken by edict of the grade curve, determines your grade.

Additional Comments

The most common comments concerning this course seem to be: This is a lot more complicated and interesting than I thought it would be and I enjoyed this even though it was a bit more work than I had anticipated.   

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